Steven Seagal killed my puppy, says man seized in reality TV police raid
Steven Seagal killed my puppy. So says Jesus Sanchez Llovera, an Arizona man whose home was raided by armed detectives filming a reality TV programme in which the veteran actor works as a volunteer police officer.
According to legal papers filed in Phoenix, Mr Llovera wants $100,000 (£60,000) in compensation,plus a written apology from Seagal and the local police chief for the incident in March, which saw him arrested on suspicion of running an illegal cockfighting ring. He denies that charge, and claims that more than 100 prize chickens being bred for "show" were killed by Seagal and his colleagues. An 11-month-old puppy was also shot and killed during the early morning raid, he alleges.
Seagal has for months been working alongside Joe Arpaio, the controversial right-wing Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, famed for his zero-tolerance approach to policing and his dedication to the cause of rounding up suspected illegal immigrants.
In a series of operations filmed for the TV show Steven Seagal: Lawman, the former action hero has dressed in camouflage gear and wraparound sunglasses to participate in gung-ho arrests of suspected criminals.
The raid on Mr Llovera's property was a typical operation. It saw Seagal join a squadron of heavily armed riot police who drove a tank through the front gates before kicking down the door of the house and rushing inside.
Mr Llovera offered no resistance, but says he was nonetheless roughed-up and that his home suffered "substantial" damage. The arrest, and alleged shooting of the puppy – "a beloved family pet" – took place while his young children were present.
The case has potential racial overtones, since Mr Llovera is of Hispanic heritage. Members of Phoenix's Latino community have long said they are discriminated against by Mr Arpaio, who is famed for arresting illegal immigrants at road-blocks and making prison inmates wear pink pyjamas.
Mr Llovera denies all charges of breeding chickens for cockfighting. He says the raid was "unfounded" and the use of force in the arrest was disproportionate. Neither Mr Arpaio nor Seagal has responded to his claims.
However the actor is unlikely to take kindly to allegations of complicity in the death of a puppy: in interviews he has spoken out against animal cruelty.
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